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List of tribes of Albania

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Title: List of tribes of Albania  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Television in Albania, Traditional Albanian clothing, Symbols of Albania, Gjon Markagjoni, Albanian literature
Collection: Ethnic Groups in Albania, Kinship and Descent, Tribes of Albania
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of tribes of Albania

This is a list of tribes of Albania, a region in south-west Balkans.


  • Northern Albania 1
    • Malësia 1.1
    • Other 1.2
  • Central Albania 2
  • References 3

Northern Albania

The fact that the tribes of northern Albania were not completely subdued by the Ottomans is raised on the level of orthodoxy among the members of tribes. A possible explanation is that Ottomans did not have any reason to subdue northern Albanian tribes because they needed them as a stable source of mercenaries. The Ottomans implemented baryaktar system within northern Albanian tribes and granted some privileges to the baryaktars (banner chiefs) in exchange for their obligation to mobilize local fighters to support military actions of the Ottoman forces.[1]

In period without stable state control the tribe trialed its members. The usual punishments were, fine, exile or disarmament. The house of the exiled member of the tribe would be burned. In Albania the disarmament was regarded as the most embarrassing verdict.[2]

Members of the tribes of northern Albania believe their history is based on the notions of resistance and isolationism.[3] Some scholars connect this belief with the concept of "negotiated peripherality". Throughout history the territory northern Albanian tribes occupy has been contested and peripheral so northern Albanian tribes often exploited their position and negotiated their peripherality in profitable ways. This peripheral position also affected their national program which significance and challenges are different from those in southern Albania.[4] Such peripheral territories are zones of dynamic culture creation where it is possible to create and manipulate regional and national histories to the advantage of certain individuals and groups.[5]

Northern Albanian tribes have the tradition of Besa, usually translated as "faith", that means "to keep the promise" and "word of honor", which origin can be traced to the Kanun attributed to Lekë Dukagjini, a collection of Albanian traditional customs and cultural practices. Besa is an important part of personal and familial standing and is often used as an example of "Albanianism". Someone who breaks his besa may even be banished from his community.

Some authors[6] and scholars, including Jovan Cvijić and some other members of the Serbian Academy, asserted that tribes of northern Albania are of Albanian-Serb origin.[7][8][9] There are traditional beliefs which support this assertions.[10] According to some of these sources, many tribes of Northern Albania (such as Hoti, Nikaj, Kastrati, Kelmend, Shkreli and part of Gruda) have origin in (descend from) a region where the population today speaks Slavic[11] (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia). Some other scholars refuted such assertions as imaginative chauvinist theories which purpose is to serve Serbian expansionism. Albanian antithesis asserts that many Serbs and all Montenegrins, Bosniaks and Dalmatians are in fact descendants of Slavicized Albanian tribes.[12]


Albanian bajraks (1918).

The highlander tribes in the part of Malësia which belongs to Albania are:[13][14]

There are also tribes which are entirely outside the Albanian borders, such as in the border region of Montenegrom, though these are still viewed as part of the Malësia ethnographical region. These include:


Other tribes of Northern Albania include:[15]

Central Albania

  • Mirdita
    • Dibrri
    • Fandi
    • Kushneni
    • Oroshi
    • Spaci
    • Lala (Priska e Madhe - Tirana)
  • Zhuba, also known as Malësia e Lezhës
    • Bulgeri
    • Kryezezi
    • Manatia
    • Velja
  • Mat


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